Earlier this month, we asked what issues you wanted to hear the candidate running for city office in Overland Park address as they compete for votes in this year’s elections.
We received dozens of responses from you all, and several clear themes emerged. Overland Park residents are interested in immediate issues — like police transparency and road maintenance — as well as preparing for the future — like diversifying housing options in the city and preparing for climate change. Based on all the input we received, we’ve developed the five-item questionnaire below.
We’ll be circulating the questionnaire to the candidates today. We’ll publish their responses to one question per day starting Monday, July 12 — just ahead of the start of advance voting.
Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts — and to the candidates for addressing the issues that matter most to Overland Park voters!
- Affordable housing: It’s unaffordable for many low-income residents to live in OP near their jobs. Would you support changes to zoning to allow for denser and more affordable housing options in OP? What specific types of residences would you like to see more of? If you do not support denser housing, are there other policies you think would help more residents afford to live near their jobs in Overland Park?
- Police transparency: The Overland Park police department has faced ongoing criticism and scrutiny over how it handled Officer Clayton Jenison shooting and killing teenager John Albers in 2018. Last September, the FBI opened a civil rights investigation on the matter, which is still ongoing. The city recently released the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Team’s report on the incident after months of public outcry. Do you agree with how the police department and city have handled this issue to date? If not, what should have been done differently? How should the city handle the issue of police transparency and accountability going forward?
- Climate change: Climate change continues to be top of mind for many of our readers. What steps can Overland Park take to prepare Overland Park neighborhoods for increased flooding, along with extreme heat and drought events? What steps would you like to see the city take to build climate resilience?
- Chip seal: There have been a number of complaints about the city’s use of the chip seal technique for road repairs in recent months, but less discussion about alternatives and how much they would cost. Do you support the city’s current chip seal program? If not, what should the city be doing instead to repair and maintain its roads? How much would an alternative cost and how would the city pay for it? If you do support chip seal, how do you respond to residents who say it is both dangerous to pedestrians/cyclists and damaging to vehicles?
- Tax incentives: The city’s use of tax incentives to attract businesses and spur new development have become the subject of extensive debate in recent years. What’s your general view on the use of tax incentives? Should they ever be used for greenfield projects? Are there any tax incentive tools you believe should never be used? Why or why not?